The victory over Nazism: historical accuracy and international cooperation vs historical revisionism promoting xenophobia – President Putin and Russian committee discuss initiatives

From Kremlin.ru

April 20, 2017

Meeting of the Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee

Vladimir Putin chaired the 39th meeting of the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee in the Grand Kremlin Palace.

The main item on the meeting’s agenda was developing humanitarian cooperation with other countries at government and public level in the aim of promoting objective information about Russia’s history and present, including its role in the victory over Nazism.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

Today, we are holding this meeting of the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee to discuss ways to develop our international cooperation and make fuller use of our humanitarian ties’ tremendous potential in our work together with others who are on the same page with us and think along the same lines as we do.

Work to preserve and defend the historical truth about World War II and the traditions and spirit of alliance in the fight against Nazism plays a great role here. In our view, this is above all a moral and human concept, a moral and human duty to the generation of victors, to those who fell for their motherland, and to those who revived and developed the country after the Great Patriotic War. This historical truth cements society and provides a spiritual foundation and basic values for development and for giving people of various generations the sense of being part of a truly united nation.

At the same time, we pursue open discussion of even the most controversial aspects of history, not only from the World War II period, but from other eras too. We take the view that no matter how difficult and contradictory history may be, it is there not to make us quarrel, but to warn us against mistakes and help us to strengthen our good neighbourly ties.

Sadly, there are other approaches to history too, of course, which attempt to turn it into a political and ideological weapon. We see the risks that arise from a cynical approach to the past. We see how falsification and manipulation of historical facts create division between countries and peoples, draw new dividing lines and create supposed enemies.

The line that same countries now follow, and which elevates Nazism to heroic status and justifies the Nazis’ accomplices, is particularly dangerous. Not only does it insult the memory of the victims of Nazi crimes, but it feeds nationalist, xenophobic and radical forces.

I want to emphasise too that historical revision opens the road to a revision of the very foundations of the modern world order and the erosion of the key principles of international law and security that took shape following World War II. We have said before what great risks this could have for everyone today.

Colleagues, we must stand up for an objective approach to history and pursue consistent and steady work on patriotic education, support public initiatives such as search movements or historical reconstructions, develop ties with compatriots abroad, look after the memorials here at home and abroad, and respond firmly to all acts of vandalism.

I think it particularly important to ensure broad access to archival materials, facilitate their publication and give people the possibility of turning to the original sources. This is an effective means of combating all kinds of inventions and myths.

We need to publish and store these archival and other materials on modern and good quality internet resources with interactive capability and enable convenient search for needed information. We need to focus on young people above all in this work and offer and promote these resources with the help of social networks.

Let me add that we are always open to honest and professional discussions on historical themes and joint research on even the most sensitive issues, at all levels what’s more, from large-scale intergovernmental programmes to bilateral contacts between regions, twin cities, universities, museums, scholars and researchers.

Common historical dates, including those that recall our brotherhood in battle and our cooperation during World War II are a good occasion for organising international conferences, round tables and exhibitions. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the legendary Normandie-Nieman regiment.

We have less than three weeks to go before May 9. I am sure that streets in Russia and abroad will once again fill with crowds of people willing to join the ranks of the Immortal Regiment. This deeply symbolic and touching event took place in 50 countries last year. This is the best proof of international cooperation’s colossal potential and of how a commitment to historical truth and our common memory brings people closer and unites them, and strengthens the mutual trust so greatly needed in Europe and around the world today.

The Foreign Ministry has overseen the drafting of a report and plan for comprehensive measures in the areas I have mentioned in humanitarian and international cooperation. We will discuss this document today.

Please, you have the floor, Mr Karasin.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin: Mr President, colleagues,

At this time of new challenges in global affairs, promoting objective information about our country and its past and present and responding to attempts to falsify history are undoubted priorities for the Foreign Ministry and the other agencies engaged in international activity. We are pursuing this work in accordance with the new draft of Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept that you approved in November 2016. Today, these efforts are particularly important.

Over recent years, history has become a target for the large-scale information campaign unleashed against our country and aiming to contain it and weaken its authority on the international stage.

Constant attempts to revise the results of World War II as enshrined in the UN Charter and other international legal documents are of particular concern, as are attempts to paint with the same brush Nazi Germany, the aggressor country, and the Soviet Union, whose people bore the brunt of the war and who freed Europe from the fascist plague, thereby ensuring the continent’s peaceful development for decades to come. We continue to give utmost attention to responding to this hostile line. We consistently advance the argument, including in key international forums, that it was the united anti-Nazi coalition’s efforts that not only vanquished Nazism but also created the post-war world order and its institutions, including the United Nations Organisation, and gave the human rights protection system its current shape.

We constantly remind our partners of the enduring significance of the Nuremburg tribunal’s decisions that stated in clear and unambiguous terms who was on the side of good and who was on the side of evil.

It was at our proposal that the UN General Assembly passes every year a resolution on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that cause escalation of modern forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

To expand and support this base, the Foreign Ministry works in concerted fashion in multilateral formats and during bilateral contacts with our partners abroad.

A new resolution was adopted at the plenary session of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York last December. 136 countries voted for this document. Only two delegations voted against it: the USA and Ukraine. 49 countries abstained. It is particularly important and valuable that the number of UN member states acting as co-authors of the document, increased to 55.

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Book review: Ukraine — Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated

Ukraine and the Apocalyptic Risk of Propagandized Ignorance
By David Swanson
June 16, 2015
davidswanson.org

I’m not sure if there’s been a better written book published yet this year than Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated, but I’m confident there’s not been a more important one. With some 17,000 nuclear bombs in the world, the United States and Russia have about 16,000 of them. The United States is aggressively flirting with World War III, the people of the United States have not the foggiest notion of how or why, and authors Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong explain it all quite clearly. Go ahead and tell me there’s nothing you’re now spending your time on that’s less important than this.

This book may very well be the best written one I’ve read this year. It puts all the relevant facts — those I knew and many I didn’t — together concisely and with perfect organization. It does it with an informed worldview. It leaves me nothing to complain about at all, which is almost unheard of in my book reviews. I find it refreshing to encounter writers so well-informed who also grasp the significance of their information.

Nearly half the book is used to set the context for recent events in Ukraine. It’s useful to understand the end of the cold war, the irrational hatred of Russia that pervades elite U.S. thinking, and the patterns of behavior that are replaying themselves now at higher volume. Stirring up fanatical fighters in Afghanistan and Chechnya and Georgia, and targeting Ukraine for similar use: this is a context CNN won’t provide. The partnership of the neocons (in arming and provoking violence in Libya) with the humanitarian warriors (in riding to the rescue for regime change): this is a precedent and a model that NPR won’t mention. The U.S. promise not to expand NATO, the U.S. expansion of NATO to 12 new countries right up to the border of Russia, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and pursuit of “missile defense” — this is background that Fox News would never deem significant. U.S. support for the rule of criminal oligarchs willing to sell off Russian resources, and Russian resistance to those schemes — such accounts are almost incomprehensible if you’ve consumed too much U.S. “news,” but are explained and documented well by Baldwin and Heartsong.

This book includes excellent background on the use and abuse of Gene Sharp and the color revolutions instigated by the U.S. government. A silver lining may be found, I think, in the value of nonviolent action recognized by all involved — whether for good or ill. The same lesson can be found (for good this time) in the civilian resistance to Ukrainian troops in the spring of 2014, and the refusal of (some) troops to attack civilians.

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine II in 2013-2014 are recounted well, including detailed chronology. It’s truly remarkable how much has been publicly reported that remains buried. Western leaders met repeatedly in 2012 and 2013 to plot the fate of Ukraine. Neo-Nazis from Ukraine were sent to Poland to train for a coup. NGOs operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev organized trainings for coup participants. On November 24, 2013, three days after Ukraine refused an IMF deal, including refusing to sever ties to Russia, protesters in Kiev began to clash with police. The protesters used violence, destroying buildings and monuments, and tossing Molotov cocktails, but President Obama warned the Ukrainian government not to respond with force. (Contrast that with the treatment of the Occupy movement, or the shooting on Capitol Hill of the woman who made an unacceptable U-turn in her car with her baby.)

U.S.-funded groups organized a Ukrainian opposition, funded a new TV channel, and promoted regime change. The U.S. State Department spent some $5 billion. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State who handpicked the new leaders, openly brought cookies to protesters. When those protesters violently overthrew the government in February 2014, the United States immediately declared the coup government legitimate. That new government banned major political parties, and attacked, tortured, and murdered their members. The new government included neo-Nazis and would soon include officials imported from the United States. The new government banned the Russian language — the first language of many Ukrainian citizens. Russian war memorials were destroyed. Russian-speaking populations were attacked and murdered.

Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine, had its own parliament, had been part of Russia from 1783 until 1954, had publicly voted for close ties to Russia in 1991, 1994, and 2008, and its parliament had voted to rejoin Russia in 2008. On March 16, 2014, 82% of Crimeans took part in a referendum, and 96% of them voted to rejoin Russia. This nonviolent, bloodless, democratic, and legal action, in no violation of a Ukrainian constitution that had been shredded by a violent coup, was immediately denounced in the West as a Russian “invasion” of Crimea.

Novorossiyans, too, sought independence and were attacked by the new Ukrainian military the day after John Brennan visited Kiev and ordered that crime. I know that the Fairfax County Police who have kept me and my friends away from John Brennan’s house in Virginia have had no clue what hell he was unleashing on helpless people thousands of miles away. But that ignorance is at least as disturbing as informed malice would be. Civilians were attacked by jets and helicopters for months in the worst killing in Europe since World War II. Russian President Putin repeatedly pressed for peace, a ceasefire, negotiations. A ceasefire finally came on September 5, 2014.

Remarkably, contrary to what we’ve all been told, Russia didn’t invade Ukraine any of the numerous times we were told that it had just done so. We’ve graduated from mythical weapons of mass destruction, through mythical threats to Libyan civilians, and false accusation of chemical weapons use in Syria, to false accusations of launching invasions that were never launched. The “evidence” of the invasion(s) was carefully left devoid of location or any verifiable detail, but has all been decidedly debunked anyway.

The downing of the MH17 airplane was blamed on Russia with no evidence. The U.S. has information on what happened but won’t release it. Russia released what it had, and the evidence, in agreement with eye-witnesses on the ground, and in agreement with an air-traffic controller at the time, is that the plane was shot down by one or more other planes. “Evidence” that Russia shot the plane down with a missile has been exposed as sloppy forgeries. The vapor trail that a missile would have left was reported by not a single witness.

Baldwin and Heartsong close with the case that U.S. actions have backfired, that in fact whether the people of the United States have any idea what is going on or not, the power brokers in Washington have Second Amendmented themselves in the foot. Sanctions against Russia have made Putin as popular at home as George W. Bush was after he’d managed to exist as president while planes were flown into the World Trade Center. The same sanctions have strengthened Russia by turning it toward its own production and toward alliances with non-Western nations. Ukraine has suffered, and Europe suffers from a cut-off of Russian gas, while Russia makes deals with Turkey, Iran, and China. Evicting a Russian base from Crimea seems more hopeless now than before this madness began. Russia is leading the way as more nations abandon the U.S. dollar. Retaliatory sanctions from Russia are hurting the West. Far from isolated, Russia is working with the BRICS nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other alliances. Far from impoverished, Russia is buying up gold while the U.S. sinks into debt and is increasingly viewed by the world as a rogue player, and resented by Europe for depriving Europe of Russian trade.

This story begins in the irrationality of collective trauma coming out of the holocaust of World War II and of blind hatred for Russia. It must end with the same irrationality. If U.S. desperation leads to war with Russia in Ukraine or elsewhere along the Russian border where NATO is engaging in various war games and exercises, there may be no more human stories ever told or heard.